Just several tablets over the recommended dose makes paracetamol a killer

You can buy pain-relieving paracetamol with your daily newspaper – and yet the drug can be a killer even when you overdose by just a couple of tablets a day, as we have warned several times recently.

The dangers of the common over-the-counter preparation were highlighted again last week with the tragic case of Desiree Phillips, who died at the age of 20 from liver failure after taking several tablets above the recommended dose.

She had been taking paracetamol for pain after a breast lumpectomy.  According to her grandfather Desmond Phillips, she was “taking a few too many over the daily dose.”
She collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital, where doctors diagnosed liver failure due to paracetmaol poisoning.  She died several days later, while waiting for a liver transplant.

Reference: BBC, March 9, 2012;  British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2011; 71: 273-82.


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